Hiring Church Staff


So you are getting ready to hire some one to help you in your church. That moment has come when you need to increase the staff and ease the Ministry load. Exciting? Yes. But there are important things you should know. And what you may not know about the person you are getting ready to add to your ministry team could turn out to be your biggest nightmare ever.

Because of my association with Indiana Bible College, I watch the hiring process of young students with a great deal of shock and dismay… Young talented students eager to get into the Ministry are searching for opportunities. Pastors and churches that need youth ministers, choir directors, outreach directors or children’s pastors are looking over the crop. What is shocking is the often careless manner that some pastors display as they approach this process. I hope some will read closely what I am going to write here, because it may save you a lot of heartache. Let me offer a few bottom line suggestions that will help make this whole thing a lot more pleasant and more ethical.

First, why would anyone want to hire someone that they know nothing about? To bring an outsider into your church for the purposes of ministry that you have not carefully screened is next to insanity. With today’s high rate of immorality (including homosexuality) one must take this thing seriously. I wish that these horrible sins did not touch our beautiful Holy Ghost young people, but they do. Further, some among us who claim to be filled with the Spirit have actually just been around a long while and they have adopted the manners and style of the church without really being in the church. Perhaps to spare themselves embarrassment, they have just blended in, never having received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. They are unwilling to admit this and so they live a lie. Never underestimate the power of peer pressure. Some even go into the ministry to please mom and dad or their egos, and there is no anointing or calling on their lives. Pastors, you have got to run references. You must inquire about their history and their character.

Neither should churches seeking new staff forget that young people have pastors. They have home churches. In the case of Indiana Bible College, we do not presume to replace the Pastors of our students. This is by written policy. We provide guidance, education, counsel, and training. We do this, however, only after the Pastor has signed the student’s application and thereby given his approval for our interaction with them. This is a sacred trust. Along the way, we keep the pastors informed, involve them in all major decisions, and heavily involve them in any disciplinary actions. I am amazed when some who seek to hire a staff person seem to think that involving the applicant’s Pastor is no big deal. It is a big deal. And I’m pretty sure that some who ignore this well accepted ethical standard would scream foul if the shoe were on the other foot and someone were soliciting one of their own.

May I stress here that hiring someone for a paid position is a professional matter. The employer should have a specific task or job in mind. This involves compensation and designated authority. Merely asking someone to come to your church to help you, in cases that do not involve a position or employment, is recruiting membership and not hiring staff. Big difference.

What questions should churches ask? No big secret here. Pastors or hiring committees should want to know about the prospect’s faithfulness, morals, commitment, attitude, relationship with home church, relationship with college, financial history, attitude, and so forth. It is my view that a prospective hire should be checked out, so to speak, before any contact is made. Calling the school and pastor before one even talks to the prospect the very first time is right and may save the potential employer embarrassment while also providing an easy out before anyone is hurt.

I am not dealing here with hiring seasoned ministers or ‘bringing on’ a person who is already a full-time evangelist, pastor, missionary and so forth. In those cases, open and free contact is fully expected and acceptable. Although I would interject that the outright solicitation of persons who are already employed by another church or ministry without the proper contact of their present employer is unethical. Even if first contacted by a person who is seeking employment, there are ethical guidelines that should be followed. Using third persons and loopholes, duplicities, double speak, and cute comments are not proper substitutions for the right ethical procedures. Anyway, what I am referring to here, for the most part, is the hiring of young students or young people who are not members of your church.

Aside from the employer’s need to know about a hire’s spiritual life and lifestyle, there is another aspect of this process which deserves at least a word. When someone who is hired to fill a job as youth leader, outreach minister, music director or so forth, and is rewarded that position against the backdrop of an inconsistent life, it sends a negative message. Jesus taught that stewards should be found faithful. This is a commandment not to be ignored. When we do ignore it, it not only sets the church up for trouble and heartache but it undermines faithfulness itself. The young persons that have lived a clean life, paid their bills, obeyed their parents, heeded the counsel of their pastors, listened to their advisors, prayed, fasted, studied, worked outreach programs, helped in all ways and in all things been ‘faithful’ have earned respect. They should be respected. When churches hire the unfaithful, the rebellious, and the undisciplined, they hurt the cause of faithfulness. Young people draw the conclusion that it does not matter. Talent or personality wins out over righteousness. This ought not to be. Respect the faithful. Hire the faithful and righteous. Send the unfaithful and inconsistent back to the prayer room by not hiring them until their talents are surrendered to the authority of holiness, purity and leadership.

In a word, it you are getting ready to hire, do it right. Be ethnical. Demand the best behavior not the most talent. Check references. Listen to what you hear. Respect home churches. Go show.
You don’t want to end up praying for discord. It can happen.